Once upon a time, there was a town called Edinburgh. In order to protect themselves from the evil English, the residents built a wall in front of the town (around it would have been better) and for centuries after, people were afraid to build out. Sure, the British soldiers could just walk around one end of the wall or the other, but heaven forbid one should expand the boundaries of the city. So, they built up; tall, wooden buildings as much as 14 stories high from which people threw out the contents of their chamber pots, because who wants to go down any number of flights of stairs with a steaming bucket of human waste? And it was always steaming because Edinburgh is never anything but cold. Quite naturally, these wooden structures burned to the ground, but *not* because unsuspecting visitors set them ablaze after being assaulted with human waste, steaming and otherwise, tossed heedlessly (but with a cry of "gardey-loo!") from the windows above. They burned because people heated and lit these high-rise apartments with fire. True story. (At least I believe so--the tour guide we had for the "haunted vaults" was very smart and super funny.)
This photo depicts pretty much the only color that exists in the town of Edinburgh. Not that I am sneering--I love the gray stone, and there was certainly a lot of it.
I am trying very hard to remember if we went into The Mutts Nuts (see background), which is a fun novelty store, or so the story goes via the internet. I am only on day 5 of our 16 day trip and have already forgotten such important details as whether or not we patronized The Mutts Nuts.
What I can tell you is that we were in Edinburgh for two days, but we didn't get to see for ourselves what that tall spiky thing was (see upper half of photo) until 5 days later. This is because my daughter wished to go to Scotland and I wished to go to Scotland AND England. So, we decided to do a few days in London (a place that, despite my week in England nearly two decades prior, I had never seen, save the black and white woolly sheep dotting the hills as spied from the plane window during those rare occasions when the fog parted) and somehow that few days in London ended up being an entirely additional coach tour to England and Scotland. SO, after 5 days in England, we spent two in Edinburgh (where I got sick), went back to England for a few days, (where I got better) then went back to Scotland for a week (where I got sick within hours of landing). It's all a little confusing, but it is what it is.
You may notice that the buildings are all a bit blackened. I said, just above, that all of the stone is gray, but that's not so. A lot of it was originally built with a lovely yellowish stone, but generations of coal fires has blackened the buildings. The citizenry found that when they tried to clean it, the stone dissolved, so they have learned to embrace the blackness. Meanwhile, in England, they seem to have figured this out (do they not have old buildings? that are made of yellowish stone? that have been blackened by coal fires? that have since been cleaned? I rest my case.), but don't tell the Scots. (If it seems that I don't like Scots or didn't like Scotland, nothing could be further from the truth. I love/loved it all!) (Except for the getting sick part.) (Twice!)
This building is pretty clean and it certainly is beautiful. I am guessing that is because it was built during the Victorian era and was subjected to coal fires for a mere 100 or so years, rather than who knows how many centuries longer. Between coal and wood, some of these buildings have been getting blackened in the smoke for close to 800 years.
There's that spiky thing again. (It's the Sir Walter Scott Memorial, but more on that later.) We started our stay (this time) in Edinburgh by checking into our hotel (a very contemporary, chic place in the Grassmarket containing a few rooms with a splendid view of Edinburgh Castle of which ours was one) and had dinner. Then Mary and I headed out. She wanted to have a tour of the haunted graveyard so we walked down the Royal Mile to where we were meant to meet the tour guide. As per the usual, I took a lot of photos. This church with the pedimented statue in front of it both got a lot of attention from me.
This statue depicts Walter Scott--but *not* Sir Walter Scott, the novelist. One can only assume that the surname "Scott" is a common one in Scotland. As for the first/given name, I have researched these a lot as part of my own book writing experience and the truth is, until the mid-1800's, there were only about 5 first names for boys and 5 for girls that were used pretty much *at all*. In Scotland, Walter was one of them. No, this Walter Scott was born later than the famous novelist, died later, too, and was merely a duke.
Since this is a tall statue covered with all sorts of lovely sculpture and I can't see worth beans, I took a lot of photographs so I could drool over these in the privacy of my home. (I am so kind to invite you to drool with me from the privacy of *your* own homes.) The carved panels depict scenes from his own life and that of his dukish ancestors, consisting of four above and six below. That makes ten carved panels. And yet, I seem to have photos of only seven. This first one, I am guessing, depicts a scene from the life of an ancestor, and it's fantastic.
This scene looks very Victorian so the man in the carriage must be the 5th duke, himself. (Oh, the gorgeous carving of it all!)
Another graphic, violent ancestor scene.
Phew! So glad I took this photo or I would have no idea who we were discussing.
Sir Francis Drake? Queen Elizabeth the First? Mary Queen of Scots? I don't know, but it's spectacular. (I am being lazy--I am certain a little research would reveal all.)
This one just bristles with tension!
So romantic, so dramatic, so Scottish!
This one appears to be a scene from the 5th duke's life, as well. Love the stag on either side!
Some of you might have noticed that the statue stands in front of this church.
Aren't they so lovely? The one on the left is a bishop. I know this because he is wearing a bishop's mitre atop his head and the first word under his feet is "Bishop". I can't make out any of the words under the feet of the other guy, but he was probably somebody important back in the day (of ruffled, er, ruffs).
Here's the whole gang to the right of the front portal. Sometimes I think about how long it would have taken to carve all of this--wow! I particularly love the woman's face that is kind of squished against the right wall just above the soldier with the helmet. She is just so graceful in spite of her awkward position.
Here are all of the peeps to the left of the front door. By this time, my daughter was getting anxious about getting to the meeting place in time for the haunted graveyard tour, so I didn't get any super-detailed shots of this side. I can see another graceful-but-squished lady on this side, too.
This is a tour group that had already gathered to listen to the tour guide's stand-up comedy routine. It wasn't where we were supposed to meet our graveyard tour guide, so we moved on.
But not before I got a better shot of that coat of arms. A crown, a harp . . . and now I know. And yet, life is pretty much the same as it was before. Moving on . . .
We met with a group very much like that one at the bottom of a flight of stairs. It turned out that it wasn't the tour group for the graveyard. Instead, it was the place to meet for the haunted vaults. Since these vaults were very close by and since our tour guide was a fascinating red-headed goth, and since this tour cost only 10 pounds each, not 12, and since we, as it turns out, only had 19 pounds between us, we stayed put. It was an interesting tour, but kind of yucky, too. You can read about that in my post about graveyards (including the haunted one we missed) HERE.
It was after ten o'clock when we left the haunted vaults and I took a few shots of Edinburgh in the near-dark exactly as if I were a tourist who was leaving Edinburgh early the next morning and never returning. Gah!
Goodnight Edinburgh! Next time, more Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle, etc. etc. etc.
This entry was posted on Thursday, December 10, 2015 at Thursday, December 10, 2015 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .